During the NFL offseason, all 32 teams must be at mini-camp. Ten teams will start this week's annual mini-camp, while others are already taking place. The stories after the draft always run ferociously during these offseason exercises. A topic that has always been high on every team's agenda is establishing the following year's identity.
NFL Mini-Camp has plenty of stories to follow in 2022
As the 2022 NFL season draws near, here are some headlines to watch in this week's mini-camp.
Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray’s contract status
The Cardinals enter NFL mini-camp with a lingering unknown number surrounding quarterback Kyler Murray. He has been vocal about wanting an extension and has reported for mandatory training. However, his frustrations are evident in how he's not attending OTAs.
The centerpiece of the Cardinals attack will be looking to sign that new contract and improve on last season.
Atlanta Falcons: QB1 Battle
The Falcons' new offensive focus during the offseason is the QB1 battle between the former top-two pick, Marcus Mariota, and third-round rookie, Desmond Ridder.
Mariota has the experience to be a starter. As a rookie with the Titans, he proved to be a valuable instrument in both the run and passing game. Though his legs might've grown less explosive over the years, he still has the intangibles and arm to lead an offense featuring Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts.
As a rookie, Desmond Ridder still has a lot to prove. He's young and athletic. NFL mini-camp is the perfect place to showcase his potential. Luckily for him, coming out of one of the worst draft classes in NFL history means there aren't a whole lot of high expectations for him.
Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson's Rapport
Quarterback Lamar Jackson reported to mini-camp on Monday, ending some speculation about the motives behind him sitting outside OTAs. Second-year receiver Rashod Bateman will be essential to enhance the Ravens' transit offense in the absence of Marquise Brown. A hefty injury delayed Bateman's rookie debut in 2021, but he did produce a top-15 rookie passer rating (80.0) when targeted across 12 games by a carousel of Baltimore quarterbacks.
Buffalo Bills: RB1 competition
It is the 3rd time in four seasons that Buffalo has drafted a running back. This year's rookie candidate was dual-threat James Cook. The former Georgia Bulldog has plenty of upside. His refined skill set opens the door for a spicy RB1 competition between himself, Devin Singletary, and Zach Moss.
Carolina Panthers: QB1 Battle
The QB1 showdown between Sam Darnold and third-round rookie Matt Corral will be the ultimate NFL offseason story in Carolina. For the fourth straight season, Darnold had a turn-over-worth play rate (4.3%) higher than a considerable throw rate (3.5%), meaning he'll be fighting for his career this coming season.
Matt Corral's probability of being a week-one starter for the team depends on his ability to show poise in the pocket and a sharp ability to read defenses at the pro level.
Chicago Bears: Justin Fields' weapons
Anyone who emerges as the team's de facto WR1, from 3rd year wide-out Darnell Mooney (2021 receiving grade 74.9) to 3rd year tight end Cole Kmet (2021 receiving grade 63.4), will have a high task of helping to increase the Bears' aerial attacks through mini-camp and beyond, this season.
New Orleans Saints: Internal Offensive line depth
The Saints' offense has various question marks, but the inside offensive line stands out as a top concern. After registering a sub-60 overall grade throughout the last two NFL seasons, things haven't been looking up. Cesar Ruiz hasn't panned out as a guard or center and Andrus Peat has consistently struggled to stay healthy.
If New Orleans is to give its division rival, the Buccuneers, a run for their money, the team needs to solve its O-line issues before the season starts.
New York Jets: CB Battle
The Jets' defense has begun to form itself in the image of Robert Saleh. Thanks to a solid 2022 NFL draft and an underrated free agency period, the defense seems to be coming together. Competition for the position of CB2 opposite Sauce Gardner is one attractive camp storyline. Former Seahawks corner D.J. Reed had a proficient 2021 campaign (78.6) and has become a leading candidate to fill the gap.
Washington Commanders: Terry Mclaurin's Holdout
Terry McLaurin has skipped voluntary OTAs and the holdout is now part of the mandatory workout period. The wideout has demanded a new contract, but the concern is whether he will return to the team's workouts and resolve the situation in time to build a path-catching relationship with the new QB Carson Wentz.
On the field, McLaurin has been one of the most reliable receivers in the NFL since 2020, with a dropped ball rate of 9th (2.8%) and a contested catch ranking of 3rd (T-34).
Q. Who will be the Falcons' starter?
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